China launches final satellite to complete homegrown alternative to GPS

According to experts, if the system is established, it will not only boost China's technological influence but eventually provide independence from the GPS network.

A satellite (photo credit: INGIMAGE)
A satellite
(photo credit: INGIMAGE)
 China is on the verge of establishing its own satellite-based navigation system that could make the country a key competitor in the geolocation services market and eventually provide independence from US-controlled GPS technology, reports said. 
The 30th and final satellite in the "Beidou" network was launched June 23 in Sichuan province and reached orbit about half an hour later. 
The network, which is already being used on millions of mobile phones, has provided satellite-based services to the Asia-Pacific region since 2012.   
CNBC quoted experts as saying that if the system is established, it will not only boost China's technological influence internationally but also ensure that even if the US cuts China off from the GPS network, the Chinese military's navigation systems will not be affected.   
“The most profound impact is that it is now independent. It (China) has now got a system that is resilient and can be used in times of conflict,” said Christopher Newman, professor of space law and policy at Britain's Northumbria University. 
“The Beidou network is emblematic of China’s grand ambitions in respect to foreign policy. They’re taking a much more global view,” Newman said, adding that some countries are becoming increasingly reliant on Chinese funds for massive infrastructure projects, so the new system would enable China to wield even more influence over them. 
However, Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told AFP that although the new system might make China independent of US and European systems, he did not think China would be able to "supplant GPS in the next 10 or even 20 years."